Glossary of Printing Terms & Definitions

Aqueous Coating

A fast-drying, water-based coating that is applied after printing, giving a glossy finish that protects the print’s surface



The original digital copy which includes all text, graphics, photos, and illustrations, which is used as a print design file



Multiple projects printed at a time on a defined set of data


Bleed/Cut Lines

Limits to where your image can be placed


CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black)

Color space that uses ink to display colors during the printing process. Standard for offset and digital printing



Texture or coating on paper


Die Cut 

In the printing world, a die refers to a precise, razor-sharp blade that allows multiple cuts of the same shape. A die cut is a process where the die cuts through the material, paper, cardstock, etc., on a die press. This process allows identical cuts to be made for a uniform look


Digital Printing

Also known as four-color process printing, digital printing is the ideal process for small-volume print jobs ranging from 1 to 5,000 sheets of paper. It is the most cost-effective print process, is designed for use with CMYK color, and requires less setup work for the print technician


Direct Mail

Traditional direct mail targets a specific demographic. You can use it to send postcards, flyers, and brochures to a mailing list that consists of people that fit your target age, gender, income, and other variables



Digital printing technology that uses heat transfer to apply an image to the intended substrate. Also referred to as digital sublimation, the process is commonly used for decorating apparel, signs, and banners as well as other items with sublimation-friendly surfaces.


EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail)

Using mailing routes from the United States Postal Service (USPS), you can choose a specific area that you want to cover with your direct mail, EDDM targets a specific geographic area. No mailing list is necessary



A thin metal applied to paper used in foil stamping and foil embossing (typically gold or silver)


Four Color Process

The process of printing using the combination of four basic color inks: CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) to produce a range of colors and create a color image


Four Over Four (4/4)

A print job with four, full-color printing on both sides of the paper


Four Over One (4/1)

A print job with four, full-color printing on the front side and one color (usually black) on the back side


Four Over Zero (4/0)

A print job with four-color printing on the front side and no printing on the back side


Gang Run

A printing method where multiple printing projects are placed on a common paper sheet in an effort to reduce printing costs



A shiny coating applied to paper


Group Sets 

The shipping option that allows the customer to ship the exact same product, but to various locations. This option is intended to save the customer time from repeating the same ordering process


Group Shipping 

A shipping option that allows customers to combine multiple sets that will be shipped in one package to save costs in shipping



Preprinted postal information that takes the place of a stamp on a mailing envelope, postcard, etc.



The process of applying a thin layer of plastic to paper or card sheets enhances and protects the printed material. Common types of laminate are gloss, matte, and silk


Large Format

A broad print category of printed material that is too big for most commercial printing presses


Lithographic Printing 

Also known as litho printing (for short), offset printing, is where the image of the desired content to be produced is placed on a plate which is then covered in ink and used for printing. This process can be used to print on paper, cardboard, and many other materials



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Dull, non-glossy finish


Offset Printing

Commonly used for high-volume print jobs of 1,000 pieces and more, this process requires the setup of a different printing plate for each color and runs every print through each color printing plate to create the finished product


Pantone Color

A universal color language that designers, printing companies, and brand owners use


Perfect Bind

A binding technique in which pages are collated into a single sheet, glued together, and attached to the cover with an adhesive



The process of making holes or a series of cuts to make tearing or folding easier



Chemically edging the full batch onto steel plates


Process Colors (use this definition below on CMYK)

The four basic colors used in printing to simulate full spectrum color – Cyan (blue), magenta (process red), yellow (process yellow), black (process black)



A sample of your final design — available in either digital or hard form. This is the best way to avoid expensive mistakes in printing, and it’s important to pay close attention to the proofs you receive to make sure the design, copy, and color are free from errors


RGB (Red Green Blue)

Color space that uses light to display images onscreen. Commonly used for TV, websites, and other digital advertising that will be displayed on a monitor


Run Size

Number of copies printed at one time


Saddle Stitch

A method of binding using staples in the spine or seam of a booklet or book where it folds



Classifies how many units of a particular print product are printed at the same time


Spot UV

Refers to the application of the UV coating to a specific area(s) of a printed piece to add interest or texture, rather than coating the entire surface. It’s a creative way to add depth and contrast through varying levels of sheen and texture



The base material onto which printing will be applied, typically used when referring to the materials used for large format products


UV Coating

Liquid, glossy coating applied to the paper’s surface and cured with UV light


Vector Images

Images made up of solids, lines, and curves that can be scaled or edited without affecting the image’s resolution